o/t: the Happy New Year Blogathon

Over at MovieMovieBlogBlog, Steve has just announced the Happy New Year Blogathon, and guess what? Just recently I watched 1947’s Repeat Performance, a fantasy/noir crossover that’s intimately concerned with New Year’s Eve. So you can predict with some confidence which movie I’m going to be talking about come Hogmanay.

To find out more about the blogathon, click on the link above or the banner below.




After Dark (1933)

Cattermole-Brompton by name, Cattermole-Brompton by nature!

UK / 44 minutes / bw / Fox British Pictures Dir & Pr: Albert Parker Scr: R.J. Davis, J. Jefferson Farjeon Story: After Dark (1932 play) by J. Jefferson Farjeon Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Horace Hodges, Hugh Williams, George Barraud, Ian Fleming, Gretha Hansen, Henry Oscar, Pollie Emery, Arthur Padbury.

The name that stands out in the credits of this short feature, aside from that of the versatile cinematographer, is J. Jefferson Farjeon, the prolific Golden Age crime novelist and playwright who returned to the limelight in 2014 when the British Library reissue of his 1937 novel Mystery in White became a surprise Christmas bestseller. Continue reading

Fièvre (1921)

France / 43 minutes / bw silent / Alhambra, Jupiter Dir & Scr: Louis Delluc Cine: Alphonse Gibory, Georges Lucas Cast: Eve Francis, Gaston Modot, Solange Rugiens, Léon Moussinac, Edmond Van Daële, Elena Sagrary, Gine Avril, Yvonne Aurel, George Footit, A.F. Brunelle, L.V. de Malte, Lili Samuel, Gastao Roxo, Marcelle Delville, Barral, Varoquet, Jacqueline Chaumont, Siska, Jeanne Cadix, Vintiane, Bole, W. de Bouchgard, Bayle, Noémi Scize.

In a Marseille harbor bar, the regular topers tope while being served at their tables by landlord Topinelli (Modot) and his wife Sarah (Francis), who seems not impartial to a drop or two herself; clearly Sarah is acclimatized to the life she leads rather than content with it. She reminisces to an attractive young customer at the bar (Avril) about the romantic interlude she enjoyed long ago—shown in flashback—with a handsome sailor.

Sarah (Eve Francis) enjoys a tipple.

A ship comes in, and a bunch of its crew arrive at the bar, a leading member of the group being, sure enough, Sarah’s old flame, Militis (Van Daële); with him is Continue reading

Mr. Reeder in Room 13 (1938)

“All right, ya dirty doublecrosser!”

vt Mystery of Room 13
UK / 67 minutes / bw / British National, Associated British Picture Corporation Dir: Norman Lee Pr: John Corfield Scr: Elizabeth Meehan, Victor Kendall, Doreen Montgomery Story: Room 13 (1924) by Edgar Wallace Cine: Eric Cross Cast: Gibb McLaughlin, Sara Seegar, Peter Murray-Hill, Sally Gray, D.J. Williams, Malcolm Keen, Leslie Perrins, Robert Cochran, Phil Ray, George Merritt, Rex Carvel, Florence Groves, Bobbie Comber.

Mr. J.G. Reeder, Edgar Wallace’s mild-mannered, self-effacing, accountantly civil servant who covertly clears up crimes for the secret service, appeared in two movies other than this one—The Mind of Mr. Reeder (1939; vt The Mysterious Mr. Reeder) and The Missing People (1939), both rather astonishingly with Will Fyffe in the titular role—as well as a short-lived but well regarded TV series, The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder (1969–71), with Hugh Burden as Reeder. So Mr. Reeder in Room 13 represents the character’s first screen appearance; it also captures the character very well, and I suspect that, for the TV incarnation, Burden modeled his portrayal on McLaughlin’s version here.

 Gibb McLaughlin as Mr. J.G. Reeder.

The movie’s ripe for restoration. The only prints available have pretty muddy sound and even muddier picture quality, as you’ll gather from the screengrabs.

Someone is flooding the country with forged banknotes, and Undersecretary Sir John Flaherty (Carvel) pleads with Mr. Reeder (McLaughlin) for help. Reeder tells him he has just the man. Young Captain Johnnie Gray (Murray-Hill) is busting to serve his country in the secret service, busting to the point that he’ll even agree to Continue reading

o/t: leisure reading during October

A reasonable crop of books read during October, especially since I was mostly working my socks off through three of the month’s weeks and, for the fourth, was entertaining my darling daughter and grandson on an all too rare visit. I grow misty-eyed every time I think about how long it might be ’til we see each other again.

Anyway, here are the books, the links as usual being to my Goodreads notes:


Bait (1949)

Cat and mouse games!

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Advance, Adelphi Dir & Pr: Frank Richardson Scr: Mary Benedetta, Francis Miller Story: Bait (n.d.; play) by Frank Richardson Cine: Ernest Palmer Cast: Diana Napier, John Bentley, John Oxford, Patricia Owen (i.e., Patricia Owens), Kenneth Hyde, Sheila Robins, Willoughby Goddard, Douglas Trow, Richard Gatehouse, Jack Gracey, Wolf Tauber.

Having lost heavily one night at cards, a quartet of seemingly respectable characters hatch a plot to earn some money. Young Tom Hannaford (uncredited, but I think Tauber) has been “escorting” rich and none too bright Nina Revere (Robins) in the temporary absence of her husband. Tonight she was wearing a pair of diamond earrings that his friend Jim Prentice (Hyde), an executive for insurance firm Varley & Varley, values at £12,000.

Nina (Sheila Robins) says goodnight to toyboy Tom (Wolf Tauber?).

Jim (Kenneth Hyde) examines the earrings.

John Oxford as Bromley.

Eleanor (Napier), forceful leader of the quartet, instructs Tom to borrow the earrings on the pretext of getting them cleaned at Cartier. She, Eleanor, will take them to upscale fence John Hartley (Goddard) and extract £8,000 from him for the items. Thereafter, the gang of four—which includes Continue reading

King of the Damned (1935)

Liberté, égalité, fraternité on a prison island!

UK / 74 minutes / bw / Gaumont–British Dir: Walter Forde Pr: Michael Balcon Scr: A.R. Rawlinson, Charles Bennett, Sidney Gilliatt Story: King of the Damned (1934 play) by John Chancellor Cine: Bernard Knowles Cast: Conrad Veidt, Helen Vinson, Noah Beery, Cecil Ramage, Edmund Willard, Percy Parsons, Peter Croft, Raymond Lovell, C.M. Hallard, Allan Jeayes, Percy Walsh.

Noah Beery as Mooche.

Colonel Fernandez (Hallard), commandant of the prison camp on the island of Santa Maria—which is most assuredly not Devil’s Island, for fear of offending the French—is seriously ill, and his daughter Anna (Vinson) flies out to be with him. The friends (uncredited) with whom she travels warn her she may find that her fiancé, who’s also her father’s deputy on the island, Major Ramon Montez (Ramage), has changed a little since last she saw him. Her early time on the island is spent progressively discovering that the man she thought she loved has become a despotic monster:

Anna: “I wish [my father] wouldn’t worry about things when he’s so ill.”
Montez: “Hm. So do I.”
Anna: “Why doesn’t he leave it all to you?”
Montez: “Well, you see, your father and I work on rather different lines. We’ve got three thousand convicts here, and I believe the only way to keep them under is to keep them afraid of us.”

Helen Vinson as Anna Fernandez.

Without Colonel Fernandez’s knowledge, Montez and his sidekick Captain Perez (Walsh) are, to their own considerable profit, dragooning the Continue reading

o/t: Crepúsculo (1945; vt Twilight)

***A splendid piece by Theresa/CineMaven on an important Mexican movie of noirish interest — hurry and read the rest!

CineMaven's ESSAYS from the COUCH

Since 2014 Once Upon A Screen’s Citizen Screen has been celebrating the contributions of the Latino community in classic films with her annual “HOLLYWOOD’S HISPANIC HERITAGE BLOGATHON.” And that time is upon us again:

Now listen, if we leave it to Hollywood and our old ‘Good Neighbor Policy’ you may see a whole array of Latino cultures represented by nothing but big sombreros, bullfights and banditoes. Whole civilizations were built without Hollywood’s and America’s help. If one takes a gander of different Latino cultures from their OWN vantage point and film industry, that is a whole different kettle of frijoles. ( Ugh!! ) A few years ago MoMA ( the Museum of Modern Art ) presented their “Mexico At Night” series of Mexican film noir from Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema. I went a couple of times, seeing the staggering beauty of Dolores Del Rioin her native…

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For the Defense (1930)

“Ten o’clock? What do you think I am—a milkman?”

US / 63 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: John Cromwell Scr: Oliver H.P. Garrett Story: Charles Furthmann Cine: Charles Lang Cast: William Powell, Kay Francis, Scott Kolk, William B. Davidson, Thomas E. Jackson, Harry Walker, James Finlayson, Charles West, Bertram Marburgh, Ernie Adams, John Elliott, Syd Saylor, Billy Bevan.

So successful is New York City defense attorney William B. “Bill” Foster (Powell) at getting his clients off, by fair means or foul—usually foul—that the DA, Herbert L. Stone (Davidson), is moved to describe him to the Bar Association as the greatest single threat to the city’s law enforcement. A cop named Daly (Jackson) has made it his life’s work to catch Bill perverting the course of justice and put him behind bars.

Daly (Thomas E. Jackson) on the trail.

We see Bill’s technique in action early in the movie when, defending palpably guilty Eddie Withers (Adams), he throws to the floor the key piece of the state’s evidence, a bottle supposedly containing Continue reading

Dangerous Afternoon (1961)

UK / 59 minutes / bw / Theatrecraft, British Lion Dir: Charles Saunders Pr: Guido Coen Scr: Brandon Fleming Story: Dangerous Afternoon (1951 play) by Gerald Anstruther Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Ruth Dunning, Nora Nicholson, Joanna Dunham, Howard Pays, Gladys Henson, Ian Colin, Jerold Wells, May Hallatt, Gwenda Wilson, Elizabeth Begley, Barbara Everest, Jackie Noble, Deirdre Clarke, James Raglan, Edna Morris, Richard McNeff, Jan Miller, Frank Sieman, Keith Smith, Max Brimmell, Trevor Reid, Frank Hawkins, Barry Wilsher.

Irma Randall used to be one of the most audacious jewel thieves in the country until she was caught and jailed. In making a prison escape she fell and broke her back, and now she’s recreated herself as the wheelchair-bound, ultra-genteel Miss Letitia “Letty” Frost (Dunning), owner of Primrose Lodge, a residential home for elderly ladies—in fact, her criminal pals who’ve retired from the profession.

Letty Frost (Ruth Dunning).

Louisa Sprule (Nora Nicholson).

Well, they have in theory, anyway. Sweet old Mrs. Louisa Sprule (Nicholson) is unable to break herself of the habit of petty shoplifting; Mrs. Judson (Everest) has difficulty letting a pocket go by unpicked; Miss Burge (Hallatt) compulsively Continue reading